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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Well, it was a long day. Tried to get my JD 160 going. The last time I used it was about six months ago and I thought there was a problem with either the starter or the solenoid. I bought a new battery and installed that. And things kind of went south from there. The reason I thought the issue was the starter or the solenoid is because when I used the mower six months ago, I wiggled some of the wires under the starter and the solenoid and after I did that, I was able to start the mower. Well, yesterday, the wiggling trick failed. I thought I would take the wires off and do some cleaning and make sure the contacts on the starter and solenoid were good. After I did that and put everything back together, it still didn't start. My brother in law who has big farm JD's walked over and thought maybe the solenoid wasn't working. He suggested I take the solenoid off and take it to NAPA to have it tested. I did that and the rep there tested it and said it was working. I wasn't sure what my next step was going to be. When I got back to the mower, I put it back together like I though it was supposed to go. I think I may have put some of the wires back onto the solenoid in the wrong sequence because after I put the wires back on the starter and solenoid, when I went to reconnect the battery, I encountered sparking. So I think I put something back wrong. Hope I didn't ruin my new battery. Also, when I removed the wires and started putting them back, I dropped or misplace the 13mm nut that holds the wires to the solenoid. I will get another one tomorrow. Meanwhile, if someone would be so kind as to coach me to put the wires back in the proper order, I'd be grateful. Next time I will take things apart on a cement floor instead of in the dirt or in the grass. Also, I don't know what else to try. I am wondering if I need to replace the battery cables. Or maybe the problem is with the key switch. If I hadn't got sparks when I tried to reconnect the battery, I was going to try to jump start the mower. Maybe it's a good thing I didn't get to that point. I might have ruined the battery or ruined some of the other electrical components or both. Thank you.
 

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Good morning Stevem17.

You posted in the correct forum, no problem there. Not being familiar with the JD160 not sure of any special requirements on putting the wiring back together, but some folks on here should be able to help. Pretty straight forward.

What was it doing before you took the solenoid off?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you de KA9WRZ. The JD wasn't doing anything. Just couldn't get it started. I did use my multimeter (still learning how to use that). Got a 12.4v reading when I checked the connection at the solenoid. I'm not certain I did that correctly. Thanks again. Have a blessed day!
 

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Hi Stevem17,

Since I've got a 160 out in the garage, are there any questions I can answer for you, pix I could take for you about how mine's set up? So, you turn the key and nothing at all happens? In a case like that, my first guess (and easy to check) would be the seat safety switch connector is loose/flakey... If you still have the seat safety switch. You can check on it by just lifting up the seat, you should see it bolted onto the bottom of the seat, and the wiring harness with connector will be sticking out.
 

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Steve, When you checked the solenoid, did you check at the battery wire terminal or the smaller wire terminal? At the battery terminal you'll always get 12+ (battery voltage). When you check the smaller terminal, you should only get 12v when the key is in the "Start" position.

There is no sequence to attaching the wires to the solenoid. If your getting sparks, it sounds like you've got a short someplace (??). If wiggling the wires got it going once or twice, I'd say the short is in one of those wires. Remove whatever wires you wiggled and check the insulation. The only other possibility I can think of is a bad key switch, but check wire insulation first. Bob
 

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Sparks are not uncommon when reconnecting a battery. Typically, you want to make sure the key is set to off, connect the positive, then connect the negative last. (Reverse is true for disconnecting, always remove the negative first). This cuts down the chances of inadvertently shorting your positive to the ground when wrenching on the positive terminal.

First check park brake is set, PTO off, in neutral, and seat safety switch. If all those are working, you should hear a clicking noise. Sometimes you have to press the brake further than where park is set, sometimes need to wiggle shifter and clanck to left to make sure neutral switch is tripped, PTO left on is very common (especially after running out of gas while mowing), Seat switch is easy enough to short out with a jumper wire.


There are a few tests you can try with a voltmeter. One sounds like you have done, and that is to see if one of the big wire to the ground has 12 ish volts, the other will have zero. With weight on the seat, turn-key and see if the zero side goes positive. If does go positive, it's likely a starter problem. Disconnect everything and figure a way to spin the starter manually with a long screwdriver or something. Sometimes, brushes get bad spots and simply rotating the position will engage the magnets.

If the starter side of the solenoid didn't go to 12 in the previous step, move your positive probe to the smaller wire going to the solenoid. If it goes nowhere when flicking the key to start, then start jumping safety switches.

Does your tractor have a supplemental "Starter Relay" installed? Google AM107421 Sometimes the solenoid doesn't get enough juice from the ignition switch to engage. Wiggling the wires probably used to be enough to get past the hump.

This Minor fix is very common. See more here:

https://www.mytractorforum.com/234-articles-bodywork-electrical/209618-starter-assist-relay-assembly-install.html

I bought a generic version of AM107421 for about $10 or $15 on amazon or ebay.

Here is a $30 version from JD of Ebay:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Starter-Relay-Kit-Repairs-John-Deere-316-318-160-165-180-420-GX75-SRX95-AM107421/123210240450?hash=item1cafe711c2:g:kokAAOSw7UZbL9h8:sc:USPSFirstClass!46037!US!-1

Before you shell out for this, another quick test would be to make a jump start lead connected to the positive and touch the other end to the small wire going into solenoid (as in the little wire that is not grounded). Or jam a screwdriver across the two big wires on the solenoid, that will throw a few sparks, but the started should spin.

Hope one of these works for you.
 

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Take a look at my signature with the link to a Youtube video. Explanation in there how this happens.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks Kurts Roberts. I don't understand your suggestion where you suggest, "Disconnect everything and figure a way to spin the starter manually with a long screwdriver or something. Sometimes, brushes get bad spots and simply rotating the position will engage the magnets." Are you saying I should stick a screw driver into the starter? Thanks for all your suggestions. Plan to try give them a try later today. Thanks again.
 

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Just going to say that the battery, especially if new and fully charged, should read +13 Volts DC. The 12 Volt designation is what the battery provides under load.

With the multimeter turned to the Volts DC setting, touch the black test probe to the negative terminal and the red test probe to the positive terminal. You should get 13 point something volts. If you still are reading 12 point something volts, return the battery, if new.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks Little Tractor Guy. I will take a look under the seat. I don't recall if the seat safety switch was functioning previously or not. If you have time, please post a pick of the safety switch on your JD 160. And also, please post a close up of the wiring hook ups for the starter/solenoid. Thank you.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Ok, this is really strange. I hooked up the wires to the starter/solenoid again and....when I went to hook up the battery (positive side first) no problem. But when I attempted to connect the ground side, more sparking and it sounded as if the starter was spinning. There are two post on the solenoid and I tried attaching the black wire that comes from the voltage regulator to the smaller (back post of the solenoid) and I hooked the red wire from the voltage regulator along with the red cable that comes from the battery, do the larger post on the solenoid. Also, someone suggested I check the safety switch for the seat. That switch is disconnected. Do I need to reconnect it? Thanks y'all!
 

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Thanks Little Tractor Guy. I will take a look under the seat. I don't recall if the seat safety switch was functioning previously or not. If you have time, please post a pick of the safety switch on your JD 160. And also, please post a close up of the wiring hook ups for the starter/solenoid. Thank you.
Here's a couple pix of the seat safety switch for you:



And the starter and solenoid and my starter assist relay (the one Brad's been mentioning, except mine is factory I think... Or at least, it was there when I bought the tractor)



And a closeup of the underside of the solenoid



So, if your seat switch is disconnected, with nothing else done to mess with the wiring, your tractor should do nothing when you turn the key. Nada, zilch. If your switch is disconnected and you turn the key and things still happen, there's a good chance that the switch has been bypassed. Its not something we can discuss the how's and why's of on here due to site rules, and the massive potential liability that goes along with unsafe recommendations. My seat switch is connected and works (I test it on a regular basis). Its goal is to shut the engine of the tractor down if your butt leaves the seat while the PTO is engaged (So that if you fell off the tractor while mowing, the engine would stop).

The solenoid is the smaller cylinder hanging off the right hand side of the starter. It is an integral solenoid, its bolted/connected directly to the starter. So there's one big fat red wire coming from the battery, and one purple wire coming from the starting circuit via the safety switches. +12 volts to the purple wire engages the solenoid, allowing power to flow from the battery to the starter.... The rest of the wiring that's hanging off of mine there, the square block in my third picture, is my starter assist relay.

Just wanted to make sure you were clear on what it is I've gotten pictures of. Let me know if yours looks at all similar, its always possible somebody's done a hack job when repairing it before you got it. Anything else I can do for you, let me know!
 

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Steve, you didn’t send your email in your message for manual
 

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Try replacing your primary ground and positive battery leads. I had a very similar problem. After I disconnected mine, the leads into the terminals just dissolved. I had even pulled them and buzzed up the connectors with a wire wheel beforehand. It's like 8 bucks a cable and a pack of 4ga ring terminals. Even if it doesnt fully solve the problem, its good to do on a 30 year old tractor.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Little Tractor Guy. Would you please look at the starter/solenoid and tell me which wires are connected to the two posts on the solenoid. When I removed the solenoid, I can't remember if there was a wire attached to the rear post on the solenoid. If there is a wire attached to that smaller post, what color is it. Thank you.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thank you. I just now realized you sent these picks. Thanks for doing that. Is there a wire connected to the second smaller post on the rear side of the solenoid. I couldn't tell from the pics you sent. Thanks again for all your help. Also, yesterday after I tried again to put everything back together, when I tried to connect the ground cable to the battery, I got sparking and it sounded like the starter was spinning or trying to spin. I will check the wiring again. I am wondering if perhaps I might have a bad ground connection on the negative (ground) wire for battery. The mower is at my brother-in-laws place and I'm trying to work on it there so I can't check that right now.
 
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